Throughout life, you go through certain milestones; specific events that define that age or time in your life. Sweet sixteens, your first job, getting your driver’s licence, A-levels etc… and while all these points are important times in your life, we often get caught up in the traditions of them so much so that we amplify the significance of them in this temporary world.
When I was 18, I, like every other 18 year old in the country was nervously awaiting my A-Level exam results; exams that I’d put all my hard work and effort into for the past two years, that would determine my future. How could 3 letters hold so much power? I got my grades and to say I was disappointed is an understatement. It changed everything. All my ideas and plans were gone. My future was suddenly very unclear and uncertain. In an attempt to comfort me, people would say: “Don’t worry. Grades aren’t everything” but the thought of getting into a course I couldn’t care about at an unknown university, and then working in a dead-end job for the rest of my life was pretty major even if it wasn’t everything. But in situations like these, I found it’s important to remember 3 things:
- This life really is temporary. Our goal in life is to secure a place for the next life in jannah not in Cambridge University. Its important to put things into perspective. Sure university is important, it’s a ticket to lots of other things in life, but Allah isn’t going to care if you are studying physics at Middlesex or Viking studies at UCL. Don’t get distracted from your real goal. This may be the hardest thing your going though in life right now but it is only temporary. As Muhammad (saws) reminded us, if Allah (swt) intends good for someone, then he afflicts him with trials (Sahih Bukhari 5321) so although you’re struggling and you’re feeling down, know that a test is a good thing for the believers. Being put in a test is an opportunity to turn back to Allah (swt) and trust and rely on him, and gain reward from that. Stay patient and trust that Allah has got your back and will always give you what is best for you.
- You’re only responsible for your efforts not the outcomes. When I failed my A-levels, I thought all my hard work and stress and late nights were wasted. If I was going to get these grades, I might as well have spent my time on something else and not tried. But you are only accountable to do the best of our abilities, not in the outcome because Allah can see your efforts. So if you have the right intentions and put in the effort you still gain reward whether you get As or Cs. Furthermore, if your only goal was to get your grades, perhaps you didnt meet that goal. But if your goal for every exam was to please Allah by using your time to gain knowledge, to ponder about his creation, to be useful to the Ummah, to please him by not wasting the abilities he gave you, and to study to have the means of earning a halal income in the future, then no matter whether you got 3A*s or 3Ds, you met your goal because you are judged on your intentions independently to the outcomes. So if you still gained reward through this on the Day of Judgement, how did you lose in anyway?
- Do not catastrophise. Sometimes when you fail at something really important to you, you end up feeling that you’re failing in every aspect of life. You start to feel like you aren’t good at anything, you doubt yourself and project your disappointment onto all areas of life. And then you end up developing a what’s-the-point attitude. One of Shaytaan’s greatest weapons, to make you feel hopeless and full of despair instead of remembering you have Allah. If you need a break in your studies, work to improve in other areas. You don’t need to despair about being bad at something, when you’re good at something else. Use this test as an opportunity to be closer to Allah (swt), maybe He gave you this test because you were drifting away? Every time we recite Surah Fatihah, we pray to Allah to guide us to the right path; maybe this is the way in which He’s answering that prayer, maybe He’s guiding us to something better for us. Don’t just freeze because you failed at something, allow yourself some time to heal by turning to Allah (swt). Focus on something else you’re good at and gain some confidence from that and remind yourself that Allah doesn’t burden a soul more than they can bear, then when you’re ready, go back and conquer that area your struggling at with that new strength!
Your failures aren’t as important as how you deal with them. And its okay to not be dealing with them with positivity straight away but don’t stay down too long, you have to pick yourself up and rely on Allah to fill your heart with tranquillity. And remember it isn’t all bad, Abu Huraira reported that he heard the Prophet Muhammad (saws) say “No pain or sickness affects a believer. No tiredness or grief nor any worry except that Allah removes from that person a sin because of it.” So you gain something huge from being put under a test, that makes it worth it.